Dan Ashworth, the director of football for Newcastle, has not ruled out the possibility of taking legal action against Milan for their transfer of Sandro Tonali. This comes after the midfielder received a 10-month ban for violating Italian betting rules.
According to Ashworth, he has reflected on his involvement in Tonali’s acquisition while the majority owners from Saudi Arabia at Newcastle conduct an internal inquiry into the issue.
“After the incident, one begins to reflect on themselves,” stated Ashworth, the ex-technical director of the Football Association. Looking back, he would not have chosen to bring in Tonali. “What could we have improved upon? How could I have been more effective? What can we take away from this? Was it possible for us to have known? Should we have known? He is a talented player and a significant acquisition, and his absence will be felt.”
The situation largely depends on if Milan was aware of Tonali’s issues. According to his agent, the 23-year-old has a gambling addiction and is currently receiving treatment. Additionally, there has been an ongoing investigation by Italian police into illegal betting during the summer months.
Ashworth stated that it is challenging for him to discuss the knowledge of other clubs. He refused to confirm or deny if Newcastle was taking legal action against Milan but emphasized that he does not hold Tonali’s agent accountable. He explained that all he can do is focus on their internal investigation and process. He expressed uncertainty in answering the question as he lacks information.
“I review my processes. In my 16 years of experience, I have never encountered a situation like this before. We pride ourselves on being diligent and selecting the right individuals. We dedicate a significant amount of time to thoroughly evaluating both the character and athletic abilities of potential candidates. However, with the GDPR regulations, it can be challenging to know what information is permissible to obtain and what we are allowed to verify.”
“Before anything else, I examine my own actions. We have not yet reached a solution. When I spoke to other directors in the sports and technical fields, it seemed as though they were thinking, ‘How could you have predicted this?’ It was a huge shock, completely unexpected. Coping with it was a new experience for all of us. It came out of nowhere.”
According to Ashworth, there have been no discussions with Milan since their 0-0 draw at San Siro in September in the Champions League. He also mentioned that Newcastle would be happy to host them at St James’ Park in December, similar to how they welcomed PSG and Dortmund.
Tonali reportedly agreed to a substantial decrease in salary, estimated at £120,000 per week, during his suspension. Despite this, he will still be able to participate in training with Eddie Howe’s team. Ashworth shares Howe’s understanding and is confident that Newcastle will stand by Tonali.
“Sandro has returned to training, but it is important to remember that he is also a person and we have a support program in place for him,” the speaker stated. “Sandro has shown exceptional cooperation since the incident and is a great person.”
Despite facing financial restrictions, Newcastle’s director of football, Ashworth, is determined to bolster Howe’s team during the January transfer window. However, there may be limitations on loaning players from Saudi Arabian clubs owned by the Public Investment Fund, which could potentially impact their plans. Ashworth stated that the current rules allow for this, but they could change in the future. One player that is rumored to be on their radar is Rúben Neves, who currently plays for Al-Hilal, a club owned by the PIF.
Ashworth stated that Tonali has been open and cooperative with the English FA regarding his issues with gambling. At the moment, there are no indications that the FA is looking into any potential investigations on the midfielder, as he has received backing from certain Newcastle executives. Ashworth also mentioned that board members have sent messages of support to Sandro.